Arizona Senate plans hand count of 2.1m ballots

On Thursday, Republicans who control the Arizona Senate announced they plan to perform a total recount of 2.1 million ballots in the state’s highest-population county to ensure that President Joe Biden’s November win was legitimate.

Senate President Karen Fann (R) had been calling for a “full forensic audit” of Maricopa County’s election result and won a court order on February 26 granting the Senate access to the ballots and tabulation machines. Until this week, according to the Associated Press, she had never expressed that she wanted a complete recount, something Arizona law doesn’t permit except in narrow situations.

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Some GOP supporters of former President Donald Trump allege there was election fraud in Arizona and other swing states that caused his 2020 loss. Fann said she wants to answer their questions one way or the other, according to the AP.

On Thursday, Fann announced that she had decided on a “preferred forensic audit team” to supervise the recount but did not disclose the firm’s name, explaining she was still hammering out the final details, according to The Arizona Mirror.

She had previously been eyeing a company with deep ties to Trump’s campaign, per the AP, but announced last month that it was not being considered anymore. The Allied Security Operations Group collaborated with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to promote allegations of election fraud and counting errors in Arizona and other states.

Fann’s announcement said she now plans to do a total hand recount of the ballots, as well as testing the tabulation machines and rescanning every ballot from Maricopa. The county, however, has already performed such a test using federally certified firms, who discovered no problems with the machines—in addition to scanning and hand counting all 2.1 million ballots, according to The Mirror.

“When all the work is done, there will be a full report for the Senate and County to review,” Fann said in a statement. “Our voters expect this audit, and it can be a big step in returning trust and confidence in our election process.”

While Fann said she hopes the effort is bipartisan, Arizona Senate Democrats have shot down that notion.

“We never wanted anything to do with that,” said Assistant Minority Leader Lupe Contreras (D), per the AP. “I guess you could say we worked in a bipartisan way, since we backed the Board of Supervisors, which is all Republican but one,” Contreras said.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.